A guide to the Norwegian Fjords
Tuesday, 5 April 2022
There are a wide range of reasons why Norway is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world, but it’s the great Norwegian Fjords that are one of the biggest draws to cruisers. The country’s expansive coastline is created up of over 1,000 fjords; stunning inlets carved out between towering mountains. Just the very nature of a fjord means it’s best seen from the water – perfect for cruisers.
For those who want to know more, in this article we explore the most famous fjords in Norway, offering some history and insight into those that you can visit on a Fjordland cruise with Ambassador.
But first, we find out from travel bloggers just why cruising the fjords is essential. Emma, a cruise specialist at Emma Cruises, explains: “One of the best things about cruising to the Norwegian Fjords is the hours of scenery you can watch from your balcony. On a regular cruise, you may have a sail in and sail out of a port that takes an hour or so if you are lucky, but in the Norwegian Fjords, there are interesting things to see for HOURS. The scenery really never stops.”
When it comes to picturesque fjords, Aurlandsfjord in the Vestland county of Norway is a definite contender for best-in-show. One of the innermost arms of Sognefjord (which we’ll discuss later in the piece), Aurlandsfjord is nothing if not dramatic, with 18 miles of still water surrounded by towering mountains and hills. Aurlandsfjord and the immediate area is so beautiful that it’s part of a listed UNESCO Natural Heritage Site – Nærøyfjord. Granted this status due to the steep-sided rock walls, waterfalls, forests, lakes, glaciers and mountains, it’s no wonder this part of Norway is such a popular cruise destination.
At the very south of the fjord, you can find Flåm, a stunning and popular cruise port. This village is most famous for two things, its viewpoints over the surrounding landscape and its railway. For those who want the perfect holiday snap, the Stegastien Viewpoint is 650 metres above the fjord and accessible from Flåm.
The Eid Fjord is the innermost part of the larger Hardangerfjord and when you visit on an Ambassador cruise, you’ll coast through to the village of the same name to spend a day. As with every other fjord arm in Norway, you’ll be astounded by the beauty of this location, and it’ll give you a chance to split off from the large fjord and enjoy a more intimate and enclosed inlet.
READ MORE: A guide to Norway’s cruise ports
Geirangerfjord is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Norway and for good reason. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site with Nærøyfjord, Geirangerfjord offers over nine miles of Norway’s best with the steepest mountains on the west coast and no shore area, making the rugged fjord-edges even more prominent and overbearing. Littered along the mountains are crashing waterfalls, with the most well-known Seven Sisters Falls and Suitor Falls which face one another on opposite sides of the fjord.
At the head of the fjord is Geiranger, a cruise destination that is often considered a must-visit for tourists wanting to experience Scandinavia. Although a modest village, Geiranger is actually the third-largest cruise port in Norway and even though many tourists touch its shores each year, only around 250 people live there permanently.
The second-longest fjord in Norway, Hardangerfjord stretches from the ocean inland and from it stems Eid Fjord, as well as many other smaller arms. Hardangerfjord is predicted to have been formed around 80,000 BC due to glacier melts and erosion and now sits pretty in the Vestland county of Norway about 50 miles south of Bergen.
One of the most popular sights in Hardangerfjord is Trolltunga, a rocky outcrop overlooking the fjord accessed by a tiring six to eight-mile hike. Standing at 700 metres above Ringedalsvatnet Lake, the view from here is completely unforgettable and worth the trek.
READ MORE: What to eat in the Norwegian Fjords
Nordfjorden might not be the longest fjord in Norway (in fact, it comes in sixth place for that contest) but it isn’t any less beautiful than the others. Its name, meaning Northern Fjord, gives you an idea of the location of the entrance as it’s the most northernly fjord in the Vestland region. This northern location means you’ll likely enjoy some snow-capped mountains as you sail up the still water and might even spy some glaciers from the deck!
Nicknamed the King of the Fjords, Sognefjord is the largest and deepest fjord in Norway, stretching nearly 130 miles inland from the ocean. In fact, it’s the second-largest fjord in the whole world! For those cruising Sognefjord, you’ll branch off of here to get to Aurlandsfjord, which is just one of the many smaller fjords it connects to.
One of the primary reasons that Sognefjord is known as the King of the Fjords (despite its size) is the fact that it cuts through some of the highest mountains in Norway, offering unrivalled scenery. With glaciers atop the mountains, step farmland and glassy water standing still, cruising here is an unforgettable experience.
If your wanderlust can no longer be contained and you’re desperate to sail past these stunning monoliths, we have a selection of cruise holidays in 2023 that can help you achieve that dream in style before the year is out.
For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog page.